Oklahoma football fans are anxiously awaiting the debut of tailback Keith Ford—and for good reason.
Ford was a 5-star recruit and the most-touted commit of the Sooners' 2013 recruiting class. He has tremendous potential. Moreover, additional factors make it logical that Ford should see game action right away.
First, Ford is already talented enough to be successful at OU. The 5'11", 195-pound Texas native possesses great speed and a bruising running style.
Ford's Scout.com profile notes that the prospect is lacking in breakaway speed. That may be true, but he is fast enough to play at the college level.
In fact, according to ESPN, Ford said his 40-yard dash time is 4.37 seconds.
For reference, former Sooner Adrian Peterson's NFL combine time was reported as being 4.4 seconds.
Clearly, Ford has the ability to excel at tailback immediately. All he needs is the opportunity.
And he may get that opportunity early on.
Granted, Damien Williams, the team's leading rusher from last season, is back. Williams had a solid junior campaign, finishing with 1,266 total yards and 12 total touchdowns.
Brennan Clay also returns for one more season. He finished second on Oklahoma in rushing yards last season and scored seven total touchdowns.
Williams will probably be the starter next season, but Ford could definitely give Clay serious competition for the backup role. In fact, he may even challenge Williams for the top spot.
Regardless of how the depth chart pans out, multiple backs will get playing time, and Ford should get a solid share of opportunities. Even if he doesn't start, he would be a great complement to Williams.
Redshirt freshman Alex Ross should also be in the mix. The 6'1", 204-pound Jenks, Oklahoma native was a touted prospect coming out of high school and is one to keep an eye on.
Ultimately, Ford should at the very least have a shot at the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
Additionally, playing Ford as a freshman would help ease the team's quarterback transition. Whether it is Blake Bell or someone else, the Sooners will need to make the running game a priority in 2013.
In fact, it is possible OU's whole offensive scheme could be tweaked. All the starting quarterback candidates are dual-threat athletes after all.
Perhaps utilizing more of a spread look would best utilize the team's talent.
Whatever the case, running the ball effectively will be essential. Last season, OU finished 61st nationally with just less than 162 rushing yards per game. The ground game was inconsistent and limited the offense at times.
Considering his ability, Keith Ford could be an impact player for Oklahoma in 2013. As long as he is motivated and works hard, there is no reason he shouldn't play right away.
Playing Ford as a freshman would also give him the benefit of early game experience. And come 2014, with Williams and Clay gone, expect Ford to make his predecessors proud.
It will be interesting to see what the coaching staff does with Ford. Redshirting him is a possibility, but all things considered, inserting Ford into the rotation right away is the right choice.